Think Fall! Advising Process Goes On, albeit Remotely
Coronavirus: BU Thursday Roundup
If you have a question or comment related to BU and its response to the COVID-19 crisis, on the subject of the move-out, remote learning, retrieving personal belongings, or anything else, please visit Boston University’s special COVID-19 website. Questions are being answered there by specific departments in a timely fashion. Thank you.
—Doug Most, executive editor, BU Today
Quote of the day:
March 2020 seemed like an eternity from beginning to end…
Stat of the day:
Think fall: advising process going well in remote mode
Sure, in-person meetings are not happening as usual. But as fall class registration opens for some students this Sunday, the advising process is going better than might have been expected, according to Steven Jarvi, College of Arts & Sciences associate dean for student academic life.
“We’d all prefer the eye contact and the in-person meetings, but when you can’t do that, Zoom meetings and phone meetings are not bad,” says Jarvi, who oversees the CAS Advising Center at the Yawkey Center for Student Services, where nine advisors support more than 6,500 CAS students. “It’s been pretty much business as usual, except shifted to remotely.”
Individual departments’ advising has shifted in the same way, he says.
All juniors and seniors can start picking their fall classes beginning this Sunday at 9 am, while sophomores and second-semester freshmen begin choosing on Sunday, April 19. The process for students entering BU in September takes place over the summer.
This semester’s advising process started a little slower than usual, Jarvi says, as most students were concerned primarily with the change to remote classes and other upheavals resulting from the coronavirus pandemic in late February and into March. Many put advising appointments on hold.
“Next semester just wasn’t as much of a concern as this semester was, and it was quite telling,” says Jarvi, adding that business has picked up to a more normal pace in the last couple of weeks.
The conversations still have been a little different, he says. “We are spending more time asking how it’s going right now, more time asking about each individual class. We’re spending more time recalibrating this semester, and I hear that from every advisor.”
Still, he says, he’s “been really impressed by how faculty and students alike have all adapted. The mood is, ‘It’s working better than we thought, but I still don’t like it. I like office hours, I like study groups.’ I hear that over and over again.”
In particular, the University’s decision to offer a Credit/No Credit grading option for this semester has taken some of the pressure off students, who have now turned to fall plans feeling more comfortable, he says. Students taking summer classes, though, are still waiting to hear if they’ll be back in classrooms or learning remotely, and everyone is hoping the fall will bring a return to normal. In the meantime, advisors find the remote process going reasonably well.
“That’s why Zoom is great,” Jarvi says, “because you do get eye contact, and you even get a little glimpse into some of their lives.”
Just the other day, one of the advisors was in a Zoom meeting with a student she’s worked with for a while, but this time she got a look at his boyhood bedroom, with his name in big wooden letters on the wall. Such moments can make a difference to advisors trying to see beyond individual scheduling decisions, he says, to get a more rounded picture of a student.
BU President updates University community
President Robert A. Brown sent a letter to the BU community on Wednesday, addressing the tumult of the last few weeks and the hope for calmer times ahead.
“March 2020 seemed like an eternity from beginning to end, as we settled into the strange new routine of teaching remotely and working on an almost deserted campus,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, it appears this rhythm will be with us for at least another month and possibly longer, waiting for the virus to run its course.”
He thanked faculty and staff “for making the enormous transitions of last month with determination and creativity” and promised that BU is “working diligently to ensure that the University operates smoothly through this challenging period and that it is well positioned for the time when we can resume normal operations.”
But he acknowledged that much uncertainty remains “around the duration of the epidemic and regarding its direct impact on the operation of our residential campuses, the extent of the damage to the nation’s economy, and the ability of families to afford a Boston University education.” A staff hiring freeze and paused capital spending are part of an effort to make sure BU preserves financial flexibility, and reserves will be used to reimburse undergrads for unused room and board. Brown wrote that it is too early to know how staffing might be affected.
He concluded with: “I know that you, as do I, long for the day when our sidewalks and halls are again crowded with the bright and ambitious students who we now see only on Zoom. Standing and working together, we will get through this unprecedented time and again walk on our vibrant Boston University campuses.”
Find the complete letter here.
Today’s must-read was also acknowledged in Brown’s letter: Sara Rimer’s BU Today story on the University’s custodial workers and how they’re tackling the pandemic and helping to keep those still on campus safe.
Boston and Beyond News
Shutdowns and stay-at-home orders may be slowing spread
It’s not time to celebrate or even change our regimen, but there are some hints that social distancing may have begun to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “We’re talking about the slowing down of an uphill trend, but the uphill trend is still continuing,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Massachusetts General Hospital chief of infectious diseases, told the Boston Globe. “Does it give us a reason to be hopeful? Absolutely. Is it time to let up? Absolutely not.”
Four used masks, a homemade face shield, and an updated will…
…reads the eye-catching headline on a Globe story that continues with these words: “A Boston emergency medicine doctor heads to hospital thick with dread.” Elissa Perkins, an emergency medicine physician at Boston Medical Center, opened up to the paper about the fear and anxiety of facing down COVID-19, which reminds her of her time practicing medicine in developing countries like Mali, Ghana, Peru, and Vietnam.
US & Global News
Finally, it’s Infrastructure Week
Faced with a massive economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government is weighing an infrastructure push to create jobs. Both the Trump White House and Democrats in Congress have signaled interest in adding perhaps trillions of dollars to work on roads, bridges, and other projects—and helping Americans through what already looks like a deep recession.
Well, we knew this was coming, right?
Yesterday we told you that the FBI is concerned about trolls and hate-mongers crashing Zoom meetings and classes now that just about everyone is using the videoconferencing platform to work and socialize remotely during the pandemic. Now there’s word of at least one Zoom security flaw—and how to fix it.
Latest count of coronavirus cases
United States, 203,608; Massachusetts, 7,738.
Find BU Today’s latest coverage of the pandemic here. The University’s hotline for faculty, staff, students, and visiting scholars to call for referral of their virus-related medical concerns is 617-358-4990.